There’s a famous scene in the sitcom Friends in which Matt LeBlanc’s character Joey attempts to eat an entire enormous Thanksgiving turkey in one sitting. He eventually changes into maternity pants to accommodate the bird.
Hillary Cecere, RDN, explains that when we eat more food than we’re accustom to, it can cause our body to work harder than usual. Our blood glucose levels will rise and our body will secret more insulin, she says. All this can result in us feeling tired, sluggish, and even dizzy. “Overeating also causes digestive organs to stretch and swell,” she adds. “When the stomach is stretched beyond capacity, discomfort occurs. This can come in the form of bloating, gas, acid reflux, nausea, or diarrhea.” It often takes up to five hours to feel good again, but the more you eat the longer it'll take to digest. When this happens, we often wish we had a pair of pregnancy pants laying around.
But for those of us stuck with our Levis for the holidays, we reached out to experts for tips on relieving the uneasy feelings of fullness that can make us feel worse and more bloated than Violet from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.
Brittany Linn, RD, says that, as a rule, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over one day of too much tryptophan. “The first step to feeling less pain and discomfort physically is to feel good mentally,” she says. “Realize that one meal or a weekend of indulgence will not change your life (or your pants’ size) irreversibly.”
Cecere says gulping down water will help reduce bloating and help with constipation. However Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, and the author of The Bloated Belly Whisperer, previously told Refinery29 that you should be cautious not to over do it with water. If you drink too much too fast, your stomach will be filled with water, which won’t help you out with feeling too full.
After a filling meal, sometimes all you want to do is head to the couch and fall asleep to the sounds of football coaches blowing their whistles. However, Amy Shapiro, RD, nutritionist at Daily Harvest, recommends staying awake for at least two hours after you eat to give your body time to digest.
Take a walk, Cecere recommends. “This will help with GI motility and with reducing high blood glucose levels, she says. “The fresh air can also increase mood and energy levels.”
But, if you’re simply too full to consider leaving the house after a Thanksgiving feast, you can try stretching in your home. Signing up for your favorite fitness class the next day is also a good solution, Linn adds.
If you’re feeling serious bloat, try a peppermint or ginger tea, Cecere recommends. The calming drink can relieve indigestion, gas, and bloating.
The day after Turkey Day, there’s no need to try to overcompensate by eating “nothing but spinach,” or partaking in other drastic crash diets, Linn says. Getting back to your regular eating routine is the best thing you can do.